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Today’s MSI Gaming Trio 4090 review unpacks the power crouching inside the manufacturer’s latest statement piece. The MSI GeForce RTX 4090 promises to be a vast upgrade to earlier 3080 and 3090 models. Let’s jump into our MSI Gaming Trio 4090 review to see what the 4090 GPU offers avid gamers.
MSI Gaming Trio 4090 review: PC specs that make full use of the GeForce 4090
What are the minimum specifications of a gaming rig that can keep up with the GeForce RTX 4090? For starters, your gaming PC needs a CPU that can support the GeForce 4090 without causing a bottleneck. At a minimum, the PC should have a solid Intel Core i7 processor or an AMD Ryzen 5 7600. It then follows that a Ryzen 7, Ryzen 9, or core i9 processor can handle anything the graphics card throws at it.
Your gaming rig should also have at least 16GB of RAM and an effective cooling system. Investing in expansive SSD storage doesn’t hurt either. A power supply unit that can deliver 450W of power to the GPU is just as important. Your PSU should have enough 8-pin slots for your gaming rig’s graphics card and other components.
Lastly, your motherboard should be a sturdy workhorse that can take on the physical and digital heft of the MSI Gaming Trio 4090 graphics card. This is an excellent time to mention that the graphics card takes up four slots’ space.
The 4090 graphics card sits in snug, sturdy foam that should protect against breakage during shipping. An anti-static bag completes the protective packaging of the MSI GeForce 4090.
Along with the graphics card, you get a PCIe power adapter that caters to the relatively unique connector on the MSI Gaming Trio 4090. One end of the adapter has a 12-pin connector that matches the PCIe 5.0 power port on the GeForce 4090. The other end of the adapter has three 8-pin connectors. Each eight-pin connector has a tentative 150W rating, which should be enough to supply the GPU with 450W of power.
The second accessory that ships with the GeForce 4090 is a GPU bracket. This bracket braces the MSI GeForce 4090 to protect PCI slots from the size and weight of a graphics card.
MSI Gaming Trio 4090 review: First looks
As you unbox the GeForce 4090, you can’t help but notice the size and weight of the package. Holding the 4090 GPU in your hands explains why.
The MSI 4090 gaming GPU weighs 2.2 kilos, which translates to slightly under five pounds. You also notice that the MSI Gaming Trio 4090 is more than a foot long and needs plenty of real estate in a gaming PC. At 77mm thick, the graphics card takes up four slots’ worth of space.
This brings us to the chassis, which is an angular, gray-black cabinet that is mostly plastic. The back panel of the GPU is reinforced with anti-bending metal plates with cutouts that allow hot air to exit the card. There’s also a thick heat sink that allows easy access to the cables that power the GPU.
In addition to the PCIe 5 power port, the GPU carries three DisplayPort 1.4 connectors. You also get one HDMI 2.1a port that channels high-resolution, high-frame-rate content. You can enjoy smooth 8K-120 content through this port if you have a screen that can deliver. Lastly, you get three HDMI 2.1 ports to connect the GeForce 4090 to whatever device you need.
MSI Gaming Trio 4090 review: Cooling system
Here are some of the design choices that go into the cooling system of the MSI 4090 Gaming Trio:
- Eight copper heat pipes that stick out of the heat sink
- These heat pipes make contact with the GPU base plate, which is also made of copper
- Three 100mm Torse 5.0 fans, where each fan has three sets of three blades
- Each fan tilts back 22 degrees, and the idea is to improve airflow into the GPU
The cooling system of the Gaming Trio 4090 is effective, and the fans remain quiet when you push the GPU to its limits.
Even better, the fans only activate when the core temperature rises to 60 degrees. The OFF-ON transition is smooth and quiet, and this power-saving feature helps to keep the GPU quiet.
Build and architecture
Ada Lovelace is the inspiration that the team at NVidia chooses for their ‘bleeding edge’ GeForce 4090 architecture. The manufacturer uses the TMSC 4N fabrication technology to create a smaller processor than the ones you find with earlier graphics cards. Better yet, the smaller 4090 die packs more graphics cores and more transistors than its 3090 and 3080 predecessors.
Processor structure of the MSI Gaming Trio 4090
The Ada Lovelace architecture delivers a GPU with 76.3 billion transistors and more than 16 thousand CUDA (general purpose) cores. This is vastly more processing power than you get with the immediate predecessor of the GeForce 4090. Specifically, the 4090 has almost three times the transistors and 50 percent more CUDA cores than the 3090.
Here’s a summary of the Ada Lovelace architecture in broad strokes. A single GeForce 4090 die carries 12 graphics processing clusters. Each cluster has 12 streaming multi-processors (SMs), with each SM containing:
- 128 CUDA cores
- Four tensor cores
- One Ray-tracing core
- Four texture units
In addition, a graphics processing cluster contains six sub-clusters that render texture. The third element of the graphics processing cluster is a set of 16 render output units. These units bring the final product of GPU image processing to your screen.
24GB of GDDR6X memory supports the processing power of the Gaming Trio 4090. A 384-bit bus links the memory and the processing module, allowing for a data transfer rate of 21Gbps. Quick-access, temporary storage comes in the form of a 16MB L1 cache and 72MB L2 cache.
The L2 cache offers storage space that is easily reachable by specific processing modules in the GPU. This reduces the number of fetch operations the GPU memory has to facilitate. Here’s how the architecture performs during gameplay:
MSI Gaming Trio 4090 review: Gaming performance
Now we look at how the hardware renders demanding, resource-intensive gaming titles. For starters, the ray-tracing modules of the MSI 4090 graphics card do a great job of mimicking the real-world behavior of light. The ray-tracing cores get a big boost from the manufacturer’s SER (Shader Execution Reordering) algorithm.
SER uses AI to group and schedule similar types of shading tasks in real-time. The SER algorithm also spares the CPU of your PC by using the GPU as the primary processor for ray tracing. This is what your gaming experience looks and feels like across different game titles:
1. Cyberpunk 2077
This resource-intensive game requires a powerful GPU to render its top-tier graphics. The MSI Gaming Trio graphics card delivers 77fps in 4K, with ray tracing set to ‘active.’ Activating DLSS frame generation increases the frame rate to 135 fps. The tradeoff of enabling DLSS is a real risk of motion artifacts. You may notice sputtering and stuttering with weapon crosshairs and other data from your heads-up display.
With a frame rate of 77fps, the GeForce 4090 is 71 percent faster than the GeForce 3090.
2. Metro Exodus
The enhanced edition of Metro Exodus is yet another resource-intensive title. This game has meticulous, exacting graphics that require massive processing power. At 4K, the MSI Gaming Trio 4090 is 80 percent faster than its immediate predecessor. This makes for smooth and responsive gameplay, even before you activate DLSS.
3. Counter-strike: Global offensive
This game title has a little less fine detail than Cyberpunk or Metro Exodus. With this title, there’s only a tiny improvement from the 3090 to the 4090. The 3090 delivers a frame rate of 406 fps, while the 4090 is only marginally better, with a frame rate of 416 fps. You get a similar ratio, even when you play the game at 1080p and 1440p.
General performance trends
The MSI Gaming Trio 4090 shines with newer game titles optimized for new-generation graphics cards. Vulkan game titles promise to deliver immersive gameplay worthy of a powerful GPU and gaming rig. The 4090 graphics card finds its native element in 4K, with good performance in 1440p.
On average, the MSI GeForce 4090 delivers triple-digit frame rates for AAA gaming titles. The MSI 4090 is arguably the most powerful GPU on the market.
- This is easily the fastest, most powerful graphics card on the market
- The MSI Gaming Trio 4090 GPU runs cool and quiet
- Triple-digit frame rates for demanding games, especially in 4K
- Smooth, fast motion
- Superb image rendering, thanks to ray tracing and shadow rendering
- The MSI GeForce 4090 is expensive
- This graphics card requires plenty of space
- You may notice some motion artifacts when you enable DLSS frame generation
- The power adapter is short; an oversight that results in an untidy power connection
MSI Gaming Trio 4090 review verdict: Monster performance at a price
This MSI Gaming Trio 4090 review finds a GeForce GPU that comes as advertised. When you consider the elements of the GeForce 4090 as a single unit, the word that comes to mind is ‘bleeding edge.’ It turns out that adding more transistors and more processing cores to a GPU can boost its performance. The evidence is in the smooth, responsive gameplay that the MSI GeForce 4090 delivers in 4K and, often, 1440p.
Thanks to a powerful array of GPU cores, your most demanding AAA titles will render like a dream. The task-specific cores are a central component of the GeForce 4090 GPU architecture deliver. Peerless ray-tracing and shading functions deliver images with realistic mimicking of light and shadow. AI frame insertion ensures high frame rates and smooth motion, even in the fastest, most resource-intensive game titles.
There is just one caveat that you need to keep in mind with the GeForce 4090 GPU. The mind-bending power of the MSI Gaming Trio 4090 truly comes alive with a display and gaming rig that can keep up. Click here to learn more about this graphics card.